Monday, June 20, 2011

Review: Bad Indians - Sounds From the Big Room (On the Make Music, 2011)

Bad Indians’ Sounds From the Big Room make me wish I had a tape deck in my car. It is nearly 40 minutes of thumpin’, smokin’ garage psychedelic rock in the vein of 13th Floor Elevators themselves. Guessing from the liner notes on the cassette inlay the band consists of only two people: Autumn on drums and vocals and Jules on guitars, vocals, organ and harmonica. Which is a surprise, because the sound feels so rich that it makes you think that it’s been made by three or four people. And pretty spacious, too – not without a reason the name of the cassette is Sounds From the Big Room – the “big room” here can refer both to a performance space or the spaciousness. The slight reverb is audible on most of the tracks.
Practically every single track on the album is a solid rock – I just can’t stress enough how incredibly fucking catchy this album this. There are no otherworldly synth excursions, no deteriorating into a wall of noise, no snaking jams. Every song is kept simple and true to the very roots of psychedelia, to paraphrase Jim DeRogatis, this is the sound of suburban psychedelic punk band who didn’t have access to LSD but thought they knew perfectly well what a psychedelic experience was like (if you don’t know what I mean, check out his great book Kaleidoscope Eyes). Bad Indians manage to be trippy without dissolving into a murk of spaced-out guitar solos or bad trip-like atmosphere.
The moods on Sounds… range from up-beat, on-the-road, thumpin’ party anthems with mandatory groooovy guitar solos (“Where I’m Livin’”, “Moonchild of the Sabbath”, “Doin’ Nothin’”, “Haunted House” and the closing “Leavin’ This Place” with a bassline that could make the dead dance), calm male and female vocaled ballads for acoustic and electric guitar (“Babydoll”, “Summersover” and “The Garden”). To keep the spirit of the 1960’s rock records, there is even a cover on the cassette, “Cheree”, originally performed by synth punk pioneers Suicide. But the standout track on the entire album must be “I Can’t”, a dark lo-fi rock anthem, almost gothic at times with its organ lines and distant, slightly muted guitar.
Bad Indians sure know how to rock. In an old school way.

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